Pistol Whip - Terminal [CD/DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Pistol Whip

Terminal [CD/DVD] (2009)

Smog Veil

Like many of the artists on Smog Veil's roster, Pistol Whip emerged in the burgeoning American underground of the 1970s with a style that bridged the gap between protopunk and punk rock. Claiming the title of Erie, Pennsylvania's first punk band, Pistol Whip's tumultuous existence is chronicled on this CD+DVD combo, from their initial run of releases in 1977 and 1978 to their subsequent reunions in 1988 and 2009.

Though probably fairly jarring to Middle America by early 1970s standards, Pistol Whip's brand of speed-inspired rock 'n' roll seems like fairly standard fare in 2009. Like a less catchy, though more technically-versed version of the Ramones, Pistol Whip blasts through 12 songs in 33 minutes on the CD portion of the release. The first two songs comprise the band's sole 7-inch (whose original two-track master tapes were miraculously unearthed in August of 2009), and serve as a proper sampling of what Pistol Whip was capable of, from the swirling electric organ of "Heart Throb" to the soaring guitar solo on the mildly offensive "Untouchables" which begs, "Is every woman really a whore?"

In Spring of 1978, Pistol Whip headed to Chicago to record the demos for a full-length album. All that remains of that 4-track session is described as "a very degraded, normal-bias cassette in mono," which thanks to the development of digital technology has now been preserved and virtually immortalized. Some of Pistol Whip's best material is on these 10 tracks, including the boogie punk of "Iron Curtain" ("keeping you from me!") and the infectious toe-tapper "All that Jazz." The drug-induced inanity of the recording sessions is apparent on tracks like "Jooky MaGoo" and the stadium rocker "Six More Inches" as the group flaunted the sex-crazed glam side of their sound.

The DVD is an interesting assortment of archivist media comprising photos, posters, press clippings and interviews in a narrated biography, and live shows from 1978, 1988, and 2009. Although the audio and video quality of the reunion shows is far superior, the imperfect energy and attire of the 1978 art festival performance stands out as the DVD's biggest contribution to the bundle.

Though they roused significant interest in their heyday from their potty-mouths to their wild antics, Pistol Whip may have slipped through the cracks for many if it weren't for the hard work of Smog Veil Records. Tightly packaged with content bursting at the seams, Pistol Whip will live to see a new generation with the release of Terminal.